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Environment

Does water hold the key to more efficient windows? (Photo: Nathan Larkin)

Researchers at the University of Toronto say they can improve the energy of efficiency buildings by fitting window panes with tiny channels of water. The scientists says that these channels, inspired by vascular systems in nature such as the network of blood vessels in the human body, can provide 7º to 9º C of cooling in the summer, and reduce heat loss during winter.  Read More

Metabolix is genetically engineering switchgrass to produce bioplastic and chemicals.

Petroleum-based plastic may be fantastic, but due to the durability that makes the material so popular it may take hundreds of years to break down. Plastic made from renewable biomass, known as bioplastic, is a biodegradable alternative to fossil fuel versions. A company called Metabolix, based in Cambridge (MA), has been working on a technology to genetically engineer plants such as switchgrass to create a biodegradable polymer that can be extracted directly from the plant.  Read More

Phytokinetic is a green roof concept for public transport vehicles to bring a touch of nat...

In an effort to bring a dash of green to gray concrete jungles, Catalan landscape artist Marc Grañén teamed up with green wall and roof designer Alex Puig.Grañén to perfect his Phytokinetic concept. Similar to the bus-top garden concept dreamed up by NYU graduate student Marco Castro Cosio, Phytokinetic is a mobile garden designed to be installed atop public transport vehicles.  Read More

The primary niche is to clip the generator to the top of existing solar panels in large ar...

Crowdfunding has come to the small wind generation field with an Indiegogo campaign intended for an interesting target niche: a small wind generator designed to be clipped onto solar panels. According to his pitch, Michael Ring has not only created a prototype, but calculated possible energy returns, targeted a price point and lined up suppliers for initial deliveries and has turned to Indeigogo to get his small startup off the launch pad.  Read More

The Nyngan solar PV plant will be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere

With plenty of sun-drenched, wide open spaces, Australia is an obvious place for large-scale solar power plants. It would seem that large reserves of coal, oil and natural gas, have on the other hand made it difficult for the country to wean itself off fossil fuels. But renewable energy is getting a boost down-under with the announcement of two solar projects, one of which will be the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in the Southern Hemisphere.  Read More

The battery is designed to even out power from renewable sources such as wind (Photo: Jon ...

Europe's largest battery is to undergo testing in the UK, where it will be used to store and regulate energy generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, The Guardian reports. The lithium manganese battery, developed by S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos, will be capable of storing up to 10 MWh of energy.  Read More

The WaterBean portable water filter

It's a given that recycling waste products is a good thing. It's certainly better than sending our trash to landfill where it will sit rotting (or not, in the case of non-biodegradable waste) for decades to come. However, even better than recycling is to not create the waste in the first place. Bottled water is now big business, and more popular than ever before, but bottled water guzzles energy and creates waste that really doesn't need to be created. WaterBean offers one possible solution to the problem.  Read More

John Dabiri has hypothesized and tested counter-rotating arrays of vertical axis wind turb...

Since we first looked at John Dabiri's hypothesis that vertical axis wind turbines should be arrayed like a school of fish to reduce the land area required for wind farm installations, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient has continued to work on the idea. Following the latest round of coverage, Gizmag takes a deeper look at his concept, and wonders whether the idea of packing turbines into as tight a space as possible might overlook some wind energy fundamentals.  Read More

The ARES system uses electric locomotives as a form of energy storage

We’ve recently looked at ocean-based energy storage system concepts from MIT and Subhydro AS that are designed to overcome the intermittency problems of renewable energy sources like wind and solar by pumping water out of large tanks and using gravity to let it back in and generate electricity when needed. Santa Barbara, California-based company Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES) has come up with a land-based alternative that would provide grid scale energy storage using electric locomotives.  Read More

Howler monkeys are among the species the researchers used to train the system (Photo: Anto...

The tropical ecosystems of Costa Rica and Puerto Rico have ears, and have done for some time. These recording stations were put together with iPods and car batteries which each record 144 60-second recordings every day, and transmit them to a web-enabled base station up to 40 km (25 miles) away. From there they're uploaded to a web app with which biologists train a software algorithm to recognize the chirrups, squeaks and caterwauls of the forest's birds, monkeys, frogs and other fauna. It's all in the name of documenting wildlife, to better understand the effects of deforestation and climate change. And according to scientists at the University of Puerto Rico, it sure beats putting boots on the ground.  Read More

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